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Friday 21 October 2016

Olympic Stadium managers oppose details of West Ham deal being made public

Published 01/10/2015 | 19:36

An aerial view of The Olympic Stadium in London.
An aerial view of The Olympic Stadium in London.

Managers of London's Olympic Stadium have opposed a decision for details of West Ham's rental deal to be made public.

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The London Legacy Development Corporations (LLDC) - set up to ensure the long-term success of the 2012 Olympics site - and West Ham want the contract to remain private.

The LLDC has, however, vowed to publish more details over the agreement which will see West Ham take on on a 99-year deal as anchor tenants starting from next season.

The decision to hand West Ham the keys to the stadium has been questioned since it was first announced two and a half years ago.

A statement from the LLDC released on Thursday evening read: "We are lodging an appeal against the Information Commissioner's judgement .

"This follows careful consideration, informed by legal advice, and is limited to a smaller number of redactions.

"The appeal relates only to information which if released could significantly reduce the level of financial return to the taxpayer as it would undermine negotiations with future users of the stadium and other partners.

"We have listened to the Commissioner's comments and as a public body are committed to maximising transparency.

"As a result we will shortly publish more details of the agreement with West Ham United in all areas that fall outside the scope of our appeal."

Last month the Government rejected a request from a host of supporters' clubs for an inquiry into West Ham's move to the 54,000-capacity stadium.

But fans seeking transparency over the move have accused the LLDC of "running scared of the taxpayer".

A spokesman for the coalition of club supporters' trusts, formed to campaign on the issue, told the Guardian: " We have always respected West Ham United's absolute right as a privately owned business to negotiate the most favourable commercial terms.

"However it is quite another matter for the LLDC, as a publicly owned corporation, answerable to the GLA, Government and ultimately responsible to the taxpayer, and charged with the oversight of public assets, to seek to block the publication of information about the use of those assets.

"The public have the right to know. Fans have a right to know. The LLDC is running scared of the taxpayer."

West Ham, who have played at their current Upton Park home since 1904, will host all of their home matches at an Olympic Stadium sporting the club's livery and colours.

British Athletics also has a deal to take control of the arena for one month every summer. The Anniversary Games and the 2017 World Athletics Championships are set to be hosted there, but West Ham have had to face criticism, with a familiar complaint being that a football club playing in the richest league in the world should not receive taxpayers' subsidy for a new home.

It has been reported that the annual rental agreement on the 99-year lease is around £2.5million.

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